Gardening with Mary Jane


  For starters, pot is an ecological disaster.   I’ll just quote Scott here:

A 100-square-foot garden requires 50 gallons of fertilizer-laced water per week. That’s a lot of runoff. Then there’s the carbon dioxide. Marijuana thrives on high CO 2 levels during the flowering phase. Cervantes said that 700 to 1,500 parts-per-million of CO 2 is ideal, compared with the 380 ppm average for outside air. One grow website helpfully observes, "CO 2 is cheaply produced by burning natural gas." You might as well move to the North Pole and start melting the ice cap with a hair dryer. It’s hard to imagine legal indoor
cultivation passing muster with the environmentalists in Humboldt

For another, it’s not all mom-and-pop grow ops anymore.  Larger outdoor operations are being set up in our  redwood forests, often by Mexican drug cartels.  Imagine going on a hike in a national or state park, or going about your job as a logger or forest worker on private land, and running across a bunch of guys with guns and barrels of chemical fertilizer.  It’s dangerous and bad for the environment.

The house fires at indoor grow ops, as I mentioned earlier, are a problem, too.  It’s funny — a friend who is looking for a place to live recently said "I’m not picky, as long as there’s not a drug dealer on the corner."  I realized that in my neighborhood of old Victorians and bungalows, there’s probably a drug dealer on every corner.  Doesn’t bother me a bit. But if a fire breaks out on my block, it puts all of us in jeopardy. And property managers are all too frustrated over the number of their rentals that get turned into grow ops and trashed.

And last but not least, it’s an issue for employers.  You might be totally cool with your employees doingLivesex
whatever they want to do on their own time.  But if they have to drive a truck or a forklift, do highway maintenance, work in a casino, or any number of other jobs for which drug testing is mandatory, I guarantee you will have a very hard time hiring anybody at all.  I know a business owner who puts a sign in the window about the drug testing mandate their employees must comply with, and every day he sees job seekers walk up to the door, get a look at the sign, and shrug their shoulders and walk off.

As a gardener, I continue to be fascinated by the ways in which our local culture and economy are driven by this one illicit plant. I can fill my garden with castor bean and hemlock and no one would give it a second look, but look at all the trouble a little marijuana can stir up.  (Photo on right:  More pot-crazed depravity in Amersterdam.)


  1. Yep, I don’t have a problem with people growing a few plants for their own use, even though I haven’t and don’t use marijuana myself. However as soon as big business enters the scene the whole thing goes crazy – guns, gangs, and wilderness grow op.s. It goes on north of the border too. However these businesses are catering to a public demand. No public demand, no money to be made. It’s as simple or as complicated as that. Why are drugs such a necessary part of life for so many North Americans?
    My funny story about marijuana took place in Saskatoon. A local tv station came to do a piece about my garden for the 5 minute slot before the evening news. The guy who came obviously couldn’t tell a carrot from a beet. When he had finished I suggested they might be interested in coming back in the fall when my hop vine would cover the patio and have bunches of hops hanging from it. He took one look at the young hops and fled. He obviously knew what marijuana looked like even if he couldn’t tell it from a close cousin – the hop!

  2. I had a friend, that friend had a boyfriend, that boyfriend grew a pot plant on a windowsill, that windowsill faced Route 1 (a busy street in these parts), that boyfriend got arrested. But if it wasn’t on a windowsill that could be seen from the street I don’t think anyone would have cared. It’s pretty common around here too and very tolerated, we even have a head shop in the neighboring town.

  3. “Why are drugs such a necessary part of life for so many North Americans?” North Americans?? I would have phrased that question a bit differently: Why are drugs such a necessary part of life for so many humans? Where there are humans, there are “drugs.”

  4. My first thought on this post is it sure will grab the attention of the NSA. My second thought is how did we end up with so many fools in positions of power.

    The human condition will always involve the use of drugs, ie alcohol. Why Mary Jane isn’t treated like alcohol has to be one of the most asinine public policies in this country.

  5. Been there done that.
    I lived and made a living in Mendocino County for 6 years as a horticulturist and have been on all sides of the debate.
    The most interesting conversation that I ever had on this subject was with an economist who lived in the area.
    He noted that the government was missing the big tax boat by not legalizing this cash crop.
    Many of the unsavory environmental problems such as crime in the forest, garbage & fertilizer run off could be cleaned up if the crop was allowed to grow legally in tended farms.
    Local resident growers wouldn’t be darting in and out of their downtown communities in a state of paranoia for fear that their crop will be ripped off or that the feds are going to swoop down in helicopters and light their farm on fire or run them thru the giant shredder.
    And when I say ‘local residents’ I mean to say your local grocery store owner, small shop owner and workers, the coffee shop workers, , the driver of the only ambulance in town and the retired mill worker .
    Legalize and you have some semblance of oversight as with our current drug, tobacco and alcohol products.
    Legalize and the illegal cartels will have competition in a fair market economy which in turn will drive them , their guns and their garbage out of the forests.
    Legalize and those who seek marijuana as an alternative medicine can acquire pain relief without fear.

  6. I 2nd Michelle’s post. Entirely too much money is wasted on enforcement of stupid marijuana laws. The public is way ahead of the politicians on this one.

  7. Legalize marijuana.

    Then maybe we can move on to cocaine. The heroin.

    We can fill the forests with cocca plants and poppies.

    Fortunately as we all know children never drink alcohol or smoke so they wouldn’t be affected

  8. Ah but what I would like to know is why grow-op dirt is so incredible for the garden…flowers etc. My aunt was an old hippie who always had the most gorgeous flowers. She swore by that dirt. Now with so many grow ops tossing bag after bag in the landfills because they dont reuse it…I want to find homes for it. Thing is, what is the chemical make up? why does it work so well? There must be an avid gardener out there who can tell me!

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